12 Best Destinations for a Classic Southern Christmas
Very few places do a Southern small-town Christmas as well as Dahlonega, Georgia, which is one of the South's favorite holiday towns. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you'll be hard-pressed to find a more picturesque small town at Christmastime. Learn more about Christmas in Dahlonega here.
San Antonio, Texas
The city’s most famous attraction, the San Antonio River Walk, really shines during the holidays, with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights hung in the trees and carolers serenading revelers from boats. What better way to spend you Christmas vacation than roaming the River Walk alongside canopies of colorful Christmas lights? It's a must-see area in a city packed with festivities. (Plan a visit, and don't miss out on a twinkly holiday drive through Texas!)
Whether you are in search of a fairytale Christmas celebration or you are looking to find a place to defrost from the cold December chill, Dallas is one of the best places to spend the holiday season. The shopping throughout the city is unmatched anywhere in the region, and there are holiday decorations and lights displays to be seen everywhere you turn.
One of Atlanta's tried-and-true traditions is the Pink Pig Ride at Macy’s at Lenox Square Mall in Buckhead. There, you can ride Priscilla, the bubblegum-colored train in the shape of a pig, which is still chugging on the upper parking deck after 56 years. The 2009 version moves through a life-size storybook showing the ride’s history. There's also ice skating at Centennial Olympic Park, where the rink comes with a view of the city skyline. Learn more about Christmas lights in Atlanta here.
During the holidays, things are merry and bright in Richmond, a city with plenty of fun Christmas traditions, events, and appearances from none other than Santa Claus himself. One can't-miss location is the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, which puts on an exciting festival of lights throughout the season. Learn more about the festive city here, then check out Virginia's 100 miles of Christmas.
See the bright lights in Louisville during the holiday season. Twenty-five miles east of city center on U.S. 60, the Lake Forest area lights up with holiday cheer. At least 1,200 homeowners light lawns and houses beginning the first week of December. Go at dusk before the traffic turns snail-paced. You can also find a classic Christmas musical tradition, A Christmas Carol. You might even encounter some snow. (There's even a Christmas-themed restaurant in town!)
Forgo the skis, and fly south during the winter to celebrate Christmas with tradition and surprise. For a coastal Christmas, few places are as charming as Seaside, Florida, the picturesque community that gets dressed up for the holidays. Long-loved restaurants hung with garlands and lights offer up seafood and good times on 30A. Learn more about celebrating Christmas in Seaside here.
For a lively Christmas celebration, Washington, D.C. is unbeatable. The nation's capital always has a big season of holiday festivities, including lights displays, ice skating, the national Christmas tree lighting, menorah lighting, and many more celebrations that mark the highlights of the season. There's no better time to be in D.C. than the holidays.
For a small-town Kentucky Christmas, set your sights on Bardstown, which is a charming small town at any time of year but turns into a magical holiday spot during the holidays. The town is strung with lights and filled with festivities throughout the season. Plus, horse-drawn carriages run throughout town, whisking you through the twinkling, picturesque landscape in holiday style.
For a warmer celebration, take a Christmas vacation to the place where dreams come true, yearlong–Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Disney World is filled with holiday cheer during the season and has schedules upon schedules full of festivities, from music and ice skating to fake snow, and caroling along with all of your favorite Disney characters. (Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is always a favorite!)
Natchitoches, Louisiana, puts on a fun holiday celebration complete with horse-drawn carriage rides and community festivities throughout the historic district, which is filled with gift shops, antiques stores, and art galleries. The riverfront town couldn't be more charming during the Christmas season. Learn more about the holidays in Natchitoches here.